A group of tourists in Estes Park, Colorado should have been paying attention to where they were going because they almost walked right into an elk herd. In a video courtesy of the Tourons of Yellowstone Instagram page, a group of leisurely tourists crossed paths with a bull elk and nearly got charged.
Elk rut is in full swing right now, and this is a time when bull elk are especially aggressive. This video demonstrates that pretty well. The tourists cross in front of an entire herd of female elk with a male in the distance. They’re walking close to the male, sparing him a glance as they pass but not much else. The group walks away, looking like they’re cutting through grass instead of walking a boardwalk or a designated path. But, still, even if the herd of elk is right by a boardwalk, you should find another path.
Near the end of the video, a straggler comes jogging up, passing the elk. The big bull then gets up, antlers to the ground, and chases after the last tourist for a moment as if to say “get off my lawn.” He then heads back to his group of females.
Staying Safe in Parks While Elk Are Especially Aggressive
As stated above, elk rut season is underway, and it’s a thrilling display to witness. Males fighting each other for females, the bugling, the eventuality of baby elk roaming the parks. But, while it’s interesting to watch and learn about the elk during this time, it’s also important to stay safe.
The males are especially aggressive during rut. This is the time when they show how tough they are, how strong, in order to win over the females. In order to stay safe, it’s crucial that you observe from a distance. Zoom in with your phones or cameras for photos, but don’t walk right up to an elk and snap its picture. That’s a disaster waiting to happen.
It’s also important to know the warning signs that an elk is about to charge. If they paw and stamp at the ground, then lower their antlers, that’s the sign to get out of there, no matter if you’re at a distance or not. It’s best to vacate the area if an elk seems disturbed or aggressive. Also, if you bring your dog to any National Park, make sure they’re leashed and well-behaved. Many animals, elk included, view dogs as threats and are unable to distinguish them from wolves.
Additionally, don’t stop your car in the middle of the road to look at any wildlife. This causes traffic jams and accidents and puts everyone not only in a grumpy mood but possibly in danger as well if the wildlife decides they’ve had enough. Faced with a charging elk, you don’t want to be stuck in a traffic jam. If you’re going to stop and look at wildlife, make sure your car is completely off the road, hopefully at a designated lookout.